The British defence company BAE Systems has won the $25 billion (£20 billion) contract to build Australia’s fleet of new navy frigates. The nine new frigates based on BAE’s Global Combat Ship will replace the Royal Australian Navy’s ANZAC class frigates that entered service in the 1990s.
The new Hunter class will consist of 9 frigates which will be built in Adelaide at the government-owned ASC Shipbuilding, the programme is expected to create at around 5,000 jobs across the supply chain over the next 30 years. As many as 500 Australian businesses from every state and territory are expected to make up the Hunter class’ supply chain.
The modular Global Combat Ship is a multi-mission vessel designed to support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general purpose operations. Australia’s Hunter class variant will reportedly focus upon the anti-submarine role.
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed the new class of ships, along with Australia’s other naval programmes, as ‘the greatest modernisation of our navy since the Second World War.’ Here’s the full press conference led by the Prime Minister:
Our Future Frigate Program: National security. Jobs. Innovation. Sovereignty. https://t.co/3ywuIyBqRr
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) June 29, 2018
BAE’s entry beat Italy’s Fincantieri SpA and Spain’s Navantia to win the SEA 5000 contract worth £19.6bn ($25.7bn; A$35bn). ASC Shipbuilding will become a subsidiary of BAE Systems during the length of the contract. An Australian Government statement said that “At the end of the program the Commonwealth will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly skilled workforce and the associated equipment.”
Importantly for Britain and BAE the selection of the new class marks the first export of a British frigate design since the 1970s. BAE’s modular Global Combat Ship is also the basis of Britain’s future Type 26 or City-class frigates which are due to begin entering service in the mid-2020s.
In an official statement from BAE, Gabby Costigan, BAE Systems Australia’s Chief Executive said:
“We are proud to have been selected as preferred tenderer to provide the Royal Australian Navy with a world-class ship, equipped with the latest technologies and designed specifically to meet its needs. The Global Combat Ship – Australia will help protect our shipping lanes and regional trade routes, serve humanitarian missions and provide the nation with a formidable naval capability.”
The Global Combat Ship/Type 26 is one of three potential candidates for the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) competition to replace the Halifax and Iroquois classes. Winning the Australian competition adds further credibility and momentum to BAE’s Canadian bid. If Canada select BAE’s entry this would see a fleet of around 30 Global Combat Ships eventually join the NATO flotilla.
The company will soon begin negotiations with Australia’s Department of Defence for the initial design stage of the contract, expected to be in place by of 2018, with production expected to commence in 2020. It is hoped that the Hunter class will begin entering service in the late 2020s.